Ta da! This is the final post for the Sarah Dessen celebration that has been running all month long. Weirdly, after sending out many super secret enquiries, answering questions, scheduling posts and organising this SarahPalooza – I forgot to write my piece. Delaying the writing of this post was the worst thing I could have done. I have read posts from some of the great authors of YA and some very talented bloggers too, and I wonder if there is anything else that I can say.
Turns out there is.
Sarah Dessen came to me out of nowhere. Well that’s not entirely true; she came to me in the form of Mandy Moore (someone I have had a long time fixation on). Upon watching How to Deal, I was struck by a few things:
1) Mandy Moore looks awesome with short, dark hair.
2) Allison Janney can never be overrated.
3) Civil War re-enactment uniforms are kind of hot.
4) Macon is a weird name.
5) Scarlett should totally recruit me as an alternate best friend, and
6) The teens felt real.
It was this last point that struck me. I love teen movies, despite it being a while since I was one myself. The same goes for YA fiction. But too often teens aren’t depicted in a realistic manner because many adults are afraid to be truthful. So we’re stuck with twenty-seven year old actors playing sophomores who are getting laid every day of the week, or caricatures of geeks, nerds and cheerleaders or even worse, endings tied with a red, shiny bow.
Within minutes of finishing the movie (along with an imdb.com search) I came across Sarah Dessen. THE Sarah Dessen, the Sarah Dessen that I usually refer to by both her first and surnames collectively ( Sarah never really feels like enough).
I got addicted to her blog. I looked for her books…I really did. But in my city in Australia, Sarah Dessen isn’t really known – I know, it’s a travesty. I loved hearing about her book tours, hearing about her getting addicted to sad and pathetic television shows (don’t we all?), the new shoes she’d just bought (love the beauties in the new vid), her husband’s new hobby and Sasha’s new personality quirks. In a completely non stalkery way, I felt like I knew this woman as a friend. Reading her books was a simple step forward, if not a little backward.
I read what I could – That Summer from the library, The Truth About Forever and Just Listen from bookstores. I loved them. Sarah Dessen’s girls lived life in a way that I didn’t as a teenager. I drew strength from them, laughed at the shenanigans and cried with the injustices that they experienced. Then last year I came across Lock and Key. I read it in less than an afternoon and started a blog devoted to all things Sarah Dessen that night. The Sarah Dessen Diarist blog was born.
It’s been a year since I began writing my responses to each chapter of one of her books. Lock and Key, The Truth About Forever, Keeping the Moon, This Lullaby and Just Listen have been discussed. I have been very fortunate, Sarah knew about this little endeavour almost immediately (thank you Twitter) and linked the blog through her own. I think this summarises how lovely this woman / author / wife / mother is. Sarah also granted me an interview. I was thrilled, excited and mildly nauseated. It was amazing. I also didn’t realise what a big deal that was until later. Thank goodness, as that mild nausea would have had to have been upgraded.
I continue to be floored by this lady’s graciousness. It’s for this reason that I found so many bloggers and authors who readily contributed to this celebration. She’s admired, beloved and adored by many. She is a quality individual who just so happens to write quality YA fiction.
I would like to wish Sarah Dessen a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY, an awesome release for Along for the Ride (out on June 16th) and happy writing in her next venture. I would like to also thank all the authors and bloggers who took the time to share their thoughts and experiences with Sarah Dessen’s works. Hopefully this gives Dessen fans some reading matter in between finishing Along for the Ride and the 10th Dessen book out sometime in the future.
Lastly, I would like to share something personal from my life involving Sarah Dessen. When I turned twenty-five my mother remarried a lovely man. A lovely man with two teenage daughters. I was to be a step-sister, which I loved in theory but was extremely difficult in practise. The youngest was thirteen when Mum and D got married. She wasn’t all that interested in getting to know me and I wasn’t around enough or possessed enough tolerance to get to know her. We would see each other at most major celebrations, talk about unimportant things and I would try not to get offended when she would launch into a huge bitch session about her teachers (I’m a teacher). But things have changed in the two years after; we spoke more freely, greeted each other with hugs and discussed the awesomeness of Veronica Mars. Then Christmas 2008 happened – I bought her a copy of my favourite Sarah Dessen novel, Just Listen. She was resentful about having Christmas with us, she wanted to be with her mum, or friends, or whatever – she wasn’t happy. Stike that – she was bored and very unhappy. She unwrapped the book and looked at it with complete disinterest. I sighed, I was unbelievably disappointed. My streak of poorly chosen gifts had continued.
My mother later told me that driven by extreme boredom my step-sister picked up that book and demolished it in hours. A month later, she texted me to say that she had LUVD it. Now this might not seem like such a big deal but it truly was. She had had to ask for my number from my mother to get the number to send me that thank you. I grabbed this olive branch and went with it. I bought over my Sarah Dessen books for her to read, had a discussion about how divine Owen was and bonded. But more importantly, she was able to see something of herself in that novel.
You see I wasn’t aware of this, but my step-sister has some interesting eating habits. I don’t mean she’s smuggling food or ralphing after meals, but she was placing some unreal expectations onto herself and her body. I had inadvertently given her something she needed…Whitney.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sarah for giving me something important. A shared passion with my sister.